HoopsHype.com Interviews

Speedy Claxton: "I'm still happy with my choice"
by AJ Hayes / October 15, 2003

When you signed with Golden State as a free agent this summer, last year’s starter Gilbert Arenas had just left for Washington and Earl Boykins was headed to Denver – making you the lone point guard on the roster and the penciled in starter. Since then the Warriors have traded for Nick Van Exel and named him the starter. Looking back in hindsight, did you make the right decision to sign with the Warriors?

Speedy Claxton: Absolutely. I’m still happy with my choice. This is a great staff, a great bunch of guys and I’ve really enjoyed playing for Coach Musselman in the short time I’ve been here. Whether I’m the starter or not isn’t really that important to me. I’ve been with a couple of winning NBA teams and that’s where I get my fun. I just want to help this team win any way I can. If that means coming off the bench to do that, so be it. I’m ready.

Have you spoken with Musselman about your role this season?

SC: No, not really. We haven’t even played our first league game yet. So I’ll see how it goes opening night and take it from there. I know they didn’t bring me over here to sit on the bench. As long as I work hard in practice and play well when I get my chance in the games, I’ll get my minutes. It’s as simple as that.

What attracted you to the Warriors? They haven’t been to the playoffs in many years, but you’ve been on winners everywhere you’ve gone.

SC: Well, hopefully I can bring some of that good luck with me here to Oakland (laughs.) Actually I really liked what I saw of the Warriors last season when the Spurs played them. I saw Gilbert become a star in the coaching system Coach Musselman has put into operation. Gilbert was able to excel in this offense and I’m looking forward to doing the same thing.

And why do you believe the Warriors were so anxious to sign you? You signed your deal practically before the ink was dry on Arenas’ Wizards’ pact.

SC: I’m a game changer. That’s what the Warriors need me to do. That’s why I’m here. I’ll move the ball, keep the other team off balance, keep ‘em guessing what we’re gonna be doing out there.

Are you at all concerned that Warrior fans will constantly be comparing you to Arenas, who was a Warriors fan favorite?

SC: No, I can’t be worried about that. We’re totally two different types of players. He’s more of a No. 2 type guard and I’m a pure point. But like Gilbert I’m a high-energy type of player. I’m not satisfied unless the fans go home after seeing us win the game.

I see you’re not wearing your NBA Championship ring. Are you afraid the other guys will get jealous?

SC: Ha! Oh no, I haven’t received it yet. Usually they give them out to the players on opening night, but since I’m with Golden State now I’ll have to wait until we visit San Antonio on Nov. 18. It’s already circled on my calendar. I’m looking forward to getting it on my hand. It’s a symbol of all the hard work and dedication the players and coaching staff put in last season. I’ll cherish it forever.

You’ve played with some pretty impressive ballers in your career. Allen Iverson in Philly and last year with David Robinson and Tim Duncan – all future Hall of Famers. What did you take with you from those experiences?

SC: How to be a professional. How to excel under pressure. Those are things I’ll carry with me throughout my playing career.

Just scanning the Warriors roster, I think you might be the only player to have a NBA championship to his name on the team.

SC: Don’t forget about Avery! He got one with the Spurs, too. But you’re right, there isn’t too many guys out there who can say they played for an NBA championship team. You can be in the league a real long time and not get one. So you really have to value it. I’m just happy I have it at such a young age. Now I don’t have to wait around wondering what it feels like.

Since coming into the league, what area do you think you’ve made your most improvement?

SC: With out a doubt I’d say shooting the ball. I’ve put a lot of work into during the offseason. I’ve just kept at it shooting, shooting and shooting.

In your first Warriors home preseason game against Sacramento, you poured in a game high 22 points, including a three-point. Do you have the green light when you have the ball?

SC: I do. And that’s all you can ask for as a player. It’s up to me to make the shot. When you pass up taking the open shot, that’s when you find yourself on the bench.

Right. And with a nickname like Speedy, I’m sure the bench is the last place you want to be. By the way, your birth name is Craig, how did you get the name Speedy?

SC: It was in the 8th grade. One of my former AAU coaches gave it to me because I was always the fastest guy on the court. I’ve always tried to use my quickness as one of my main attributes, because I’m usually one of the smallest guys on the court too – I’m 5’11. When guys attempt to post me up I try to go right around them.

When you’re not juking NBA big men out of their high tops, what do you like to do for fun?

SC: I bowl. Seriously, I picked it up a couple of years ago and I already have a 180 average. My high game is 237, I try to go 3-4 times a week. I just found a bowling alley out where I’m staying in Alameda. When I’m not playing ball, you can probably find me there.

AJ Hayes is a San Francisco-based sports writer and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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